From the Latin, “pair” means two similar things. Pants (pantaloons), were originally two similar things. Because they came in two pieces, you had to put one leg on at a time. A pair of underwear is referred to in the same way as trousers and jeans as it is a throwback to when pants (pantaloons) originally came in two pieces. One leg would be put on, tied around the waist, followed by the other leg.

The connection between the origin of pair of underwear and the origin of pair of pants is the fact that earlier they used to come in two pieces, one piece for each leg. 

In this article, you will come across the history of underwear along with a little bit of the origin of pair of pants as well since they are highly connected.

Why Do They Call It A Pair Of Underwear?

During the early 19th century, a pair of underwear was considered to be a fashion statement. Underwear that women wore back then consisted of two separate legs that came together at the waist, and these two separate legs formed a pair.

Underwear was originally designed to protect the outer clothing from dirt brought in by the skin. Before the 19th century, people did not take their baths very often, since frequent bathing was for the wealthy and hence they were important. Over time, however, people became more open to nudity and sexual activities, changing the styles and sizes of underwear.

Different types of underwear have been designed to suit various needs in the current market.

In order to understand the logic behind “Why do they call it a pair of underwear?”, we have mentioned more about the plural of underwear in the following section of this article. 

What is the Plural of Underwear?

Underwear is the plural form of underwear. In the English language, there are some words that can be used both singularly and plural. One of these unique words is underwear.

The singular and plural forms of defective nouns are the same, such as underwear. These words include deer, swine, flour, and chinos.

Other word forms that are defective nouns also exist, but they differ in the sense that they only exist in the plural form. It is a type of word known as plurale tantum and is used to indicate pairs or groups of objects. It has the same word for both singular and plural. Among the examples of plurale tantum are trousers, jeans, spectacles, scissors, pants, and clothes.

Additionally, the term underwear remains the same for both its singular and plural forms because it can be used as a collective noun. Nouns that refer to a set of things or people are collective nouns.

Underwear, as a collective noun, refers to all types of clothes worn right next to the skin, under outer clothing. Underwear includes panties, boxers, briefs, vests, and bras. 

Further, we have mentioned information about the origin of pair of pants and how it is similar to the rise of pair of underwear. 

Origin Of Pair Of Pants

Pants have been referred to as a pair since the 16th century. Two sleeves on a shirt didn’t prompt anyone to call them a pair of shirts, since shirts were made from one piece of cloth. Or even a pair of bras, for that matter. 

Why Is It Called Pants And Not Pant?

Pantaloon is an Anglicization of Pantalone, the name of the character. When similar trousers became popular during the Restoration in England, they became known as pantaloons, Pantaloon being an Anglicization of Pantalone.

Why does the term pants have an S on the end?

Pantaloons are those tight-like leg coverings worn by pirates and Shakespearean characters. Before pants became a single garment 300 or 400 years ago, they were actually two separate garments.


All of this began in the 19th century. In the 19th Century, underwear came with two separate legs and that is why it was given the name of “a pair of underwear”. Similarly, the origin of pair of pants happened due to the very same reason. The fashion sense back then and in the present are very different and hence the confusion of terms that do not really make complete sense right now.


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